Bicornuate(Heart Shaped) Uterus: Everything You Need to Know

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In this article:

What is a Bicornuate Uterus?
So What Causes a Heart-Shaped Uterus?
Is Having a Heart-Shaped Uterus a Bad Thing?
Can you have a baby if you have a Bicornuate Uterus?
How Common is Bicornuate Uterus?
What are the Symptoms of Bicornuate Uterus?
When Should I Go See the Doctor?

bicornuate uterus

A Guide for Bicornuate(Heart Shaped) Uterus

What is a Bicornuate Uterus?

A heart-shaped uterus is actually a type of congenital uterine anomaly, meaning that if you have one, your uterus developed abnormally while you were still in the womb.  If you have a bicornuate uterus, it means that your uterus is heart-shaped. The uterus is the organ in a woman’s body that holds a baby. This condition is sometimes referred to as a “heart-shaped” womb because it actually looks like a heart.

The shape of your uterus is important if you become pregnant because it affects how a baby lies in your womb. Uterus irregularities are relatively unusual. About 3 percent of women are born with a defect in the size, shape, or structure of their uterus. A bicornuate uterus is one of the most common types of uterine irregularities.

So What Causes a Heart-Shaped Uterus?

Though heart-shaped uteri are congenital, they’re not genetic. So the shape of your uterus might be totally different than your mom’s. Special ducts only partially fuse together, which leads to the separation of the two upper parts, or horns, of the uterus. When the horns stick out a little, the womb appears to be heart-shaped. You can’t prevent or stop this condition if you have it.

Is Having a Heart-Shaped Uterus a Bad Thing?

Many women go their whole lives without even knowing that they have a heart-shaped uterus. It’s asymptomatic, for one thing. And it has no effect on your periods; your menstrual cycle goes according to your regular plan.

In rare cases, a heart-shaped uterus may put you at a higher risk for endometriosis, which happens when the normal lining of the uterus sheds during your period and flows back through the fallopian tubes into your belly instead of your cervix

Can you have a baby if you have a Bicornuate Uterus?

The biggest issue with a heart-shaped uterus, however, is the chance of recurrent miscarriages, preterm birth, possible breach babies (a.k.a., when the baby wants to come out bottom-first, instead of head-first) at term, or other pregnancy issues.

Having a bicornuate uterus does not cause first trimester miscarriages. Cervical insufficiency and preterm delivery could potentially cause a second-trimester miscarriage or pregnancy loss at birth if the baby is born prematurely– usually before 24 or 25 weeks of pregnancy, the point at which a premature baby can potentially survive. Because of the indentation on the top of the uterus, a developing fetus may not have enough room to grow, which can result in preterm labour.

While these scary complications can occur, many women with bicornuate uteri carry their pregnancies without any problems. If you are concerned that your bicornuate uterus may cause pregnancy complications, speak with a high-risk obstetrician or fertility specialist who can evaluate your medical history and determine your personal risk.

How Common is Bicornuate Uterus?

While uterine anomalies, in general, aren’t terribly common—only 3 to 6 percent of women have them—bicornuate uteri are most likely, with 26 percent of uterine abnormalities being heart-shaped.

A bicornuate uterus is one of the several types of müllerian duct anomalies. Other types include uterus didelphys, two separate uteri; unicornuate uterus—where only one duct is present—resulting in a smaller-than-average uterus; and septate uterus, which occurs the uterus is divided by a wall or septum. Bicornuate uteri are the most common müllerian duct anomaly.

What are the Symptoms of Bicornuate Uterus?

There are no visible symptoms of a heart-shaped uterus, and the only way to tell if you have one is to have a 3D ultrasound or MRI. Usually what ends up happening is women get testing and/or imaging done if they have had recurrent miscarriages (typically after three of them), have experienced infertility, or have had a breach birth at term—again, all which may be caused by a heart-shaped uterus.

When Should I Go See the Doctor?

A bicornuate uterus might not be treated, except to watch for signs of cervical dilation. If it is treated surgically, a reconstruction will be done via laparoscopic surgery. A septate uterus is usually treated through a hysteroscopic surgery. While a bicornuate uterus is not usually considered a factor in recurrent miscarriages, a septate uterus is known to increase miscarriage risks.

If you are having recurrent miscarriages and your doctor has determined you have a bicornuate uterus, consider seeing a specialist for a second opinion to confirm your diagnosis and discuss treatment plans.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5532105/

https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/uterine-abnormality-problems-womb

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